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Gagliardi named dean of UM's Blewett School of Law

The University of Montana today announced that Elaine Gagliardi will serve as the dean of the Alexander Blewett III School of Law.

Gagliardi, an alumna of Montana’s only law school, has served as interim dean since June 2022 and has been a faculty member at the school since 1995.

“I am thrilled for the opportunity to continue leading the Alexander Blewett III School of Law, an institution that means so much to our state,” Professor Gagliardi said. “Our law school is the launchpad for legal minds in Montana, and I am eager to continue our positive momentum alongside the world-class faculty, top-tier staff and inspiring students that make this place so special.”

Gagliardi brings significant practical experience to the law school, having worked with firms in Missoula, Connecticut, and Washington. She has served as a chair of the State Bar of Montana’s Business, Estates, Trust, Tax and Real Estate Section.

She also is one of a few elected to both the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and the American College of Tax Counsel, as well as co-authors two multivolume treatises published by Lexis Publishing, “Modern Estate Planning (Second Edition)” and “How to Save Time and Taxes Handling Estates.” 

After graduating from the law school, Gagliardi served as a law clerk for two other Alexander Blewett III School of Law graduates: James R. Browning, chief judge of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and William J. Jameson, senior judge of the U.S. District Court of Montana.

Suzanne Tilleman, dean of UM’s College of Business, led the search committee that recommended Gagliardi for the position.

“Elaine’s passion for the Alexander Blewett III School of Law is contagious,” Tilleman said. “She has the experience, the vision and the relationship with Montana’s legal community to lead the school as it continues to bring together top-notch legal and public policy programs to serve the state, region and nation.”

The law school rose in the national rankings in 2022, up 31 spots from the year before. Additionally, the law school welcomed its most diverse class in history to campus this fall.

As dean, Gagliardi also will oversee UM’s Department of Public Administration and Policy, the state’s top public affairs institution.